The Political Saga Of EVMs
A very disturbing claim has been brought forward by political parties after almost every election in 2017. Be it the assembly elections in the state of Uttar Pradesh or the municipal elections in Delhi and U.P, the allegations are that the EVM’s have been rigged. However, the election commission has maintained that the technology of the EVM’S cannot be rigged and it is tamper proof. The political parties are far from convinced and their demand is to replace the EVM’s with the old system of the ballot paper.Should the EVM’s be rolled back or should the allegations of the parties be dismissed? Let’s try and understand this.
Where Did It All Begin
After its introduction in certain assembly elections in the late 1990’s, EVM’s were used in Lok Sabha elections as well. The first party to question this technology was the B.J.P. in 2009. One of its senior-most leaders, Mr L.K. Advani, had called for ballot papers to ensure fair elections. The Congress party had championed the cause of the EVMs. However, after the recent debacles faced by this very party in the U.P. assembly election in 2017, it joined hands with Samajwadi Party as well as the Aam Aadmi Party in raising the issue of vote-rigging via EVM’s. Mayawati went to the extent of calling for fresh elections. Their claim is that the voting machines have been manipulated in such a way that no matter which party’s symbol a voter presses, the vote goes to B.J.P. Mr Arvind Kejriwal, president of AAP, had even been willing to demonstrate ways to rig an EVM. This trend continued after defeats in the Municipal Elections in Maharashtra, Delhi and U.P.
The B.J.P. seems to have overcome its earlier reservations as has been quite vocal in its support of the EVMs.
The Response Of The Election Commission
The election commission has given its assurance that the technology is tamper proof. In response to claims made by certain political leaders that they can hack the technology, the committee has challenged them to do so. It has also upgraded the technology with a paper trail. This paper trail, known as VVPATS, will provide for more transparency as it will allow the voter to identify his/her vote. The additional benefit of the VVPATS is that it can be used for tallying the number of votes with EVMs. Hence, the demand for ballot papers is also met.
The Ground Reality
A peculiar point to be considered is that all the political parties challenge the validity of EVMs when they do not win elections. Congress kept mum about EVM tampering in the Punjab assembly elections, the Samajwadi Party didn’t have any problems with this technology and neither did AAP when they won assembly elections in 2012 and 2015 respectively. Even the BJP has forgotten its opposition to EVM.
While our political leaders continue to first oppose and then support and vice versa, Russia has asked for this very technology for its 2018 presidential elections.
A possible solution to this dilemma is to hold an election to decide in favor of EVMs or ballot paper. But the question is what mechanism should be used to determine the outcome?